Markets

In the absence of cost-effective, large-scale electricity storage, the North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC) finds stark regional differences concerning grid stability in its 2017 peak power demand projections. Reserve margins, the estimated buffer of unused generating capacity, range from less than 15% in the grid area of ISO-New England to almost 29% in New York.

The Australian state of Queensland is helping Stanwell Corp to bring a mothballed power plant back into the market in an effort to lower energy prices. The state’s pre-Budget, disclosed yesterday, acts on the Government’s commitment to help re-dispatch a total AS$386 million worth of flexible gas generating capacity near Townsville – and proposes a AS$770 million subsidy to help drive down wholesale electricity prices.

Iran’s MAPNA Group announced it finalised the start-up of the Middle East’s first mobile power stations on Tuesday. Two 25-MW mobile generator set, located in two cities in north Iran, were installed, fired up and grid-synchronised in less than three months.

Large-scale uptake of variable renewable energy (VRE), forecast to remain the fasted-growing power source over the next five years, is challenging traditional policy, market and regulatory frameworks. “Without taking appropriate action, this complexity can act as a brake as countries seek to add ever larger shares of VRE to their power systems,” analysts at the International Energy Administration (IEA) warn.

The Institute of Directors (IoD), the UK’s longest-running organisation for professional leaders, has called on whoever forms the next Government to come up with a “transparent alternative” to energy price caps.
“Price cap or freezes don’t help,” the IoD said, suggesting Whitehall should rather create a default tariff structure instead.

Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom has increased supplies to Europe by more than13% since the start of this year as “the upward trend for Russian gas demand in Europe continues in the first half of 2017,” CEO Alexey Miller said. Gazprom sold a record 179.3 Bcm to Europe last year and referring to unreliable clean energy sources, Miller said he sees natural gas as a “destination fuel of the future.”

Utility-scale capacity provided by various energy storage technologies and renewables beyond wind, solar and hydro, collectively accounted for 4% of the electricity generating capacity in the United States in 2016. Latest EIA figures shows a small, but growing trend towards demand-side response – vital tools for balancing electricity markets the United States, and elsewhere.  

The first annual capacity auction, completed by PJM Interconnection this week, produced a price of $76.53/megawatt-day for resources in most of the grid area. Transmission limits and power plant retirements, however, led to substantially higher prices in areas with constraints. The grid operator procured 165,109 MW of capacity resources for the period from June 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021, resulting in a 23.3% reserve margin.

The Cabinet of Bangladesh has given the green light to Reliance Power of India for building a 750-MW combined-cycle gas power plant at Meghnaghat, in the country’s central Narayanganj district. Running on imported LNG, all electricity produced by the power unti will be sold to the Bengali grid operator at an agreed price of $0.73/kWh. The unit is part of a wider LNG-to-power project with up to 3,000 MW, including an FSRU and power interconnectors to export part of the electricity to India.

Britain’s dominant energy supplier Centrica sees a “trend of less value being generated by centralized power,” meaning large combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) units, “so we have converted a number of these into more flexible open-cycle (OCGT) units,” says Merchant Power Director, Mark Futyan. In addition, Centrica is building 100-MW of decentralized capacity, based on Wartsila gas engines and 50-MW energy storage.

General Electric has committed $100 million investment to set up a multi-use gas turbine repair and service plant in Nigeria, its local CEO Lazarus Angbazo said. With this move, the U.S. engineering major is responding to a fast rise in demand for flexible gas-fired generating capacity in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy in terms of GDP.

For most days in 2017, the share of electricity generated from natural gas has been near or below previous five-year (2012–16) minimums in the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) region. Rising hydro and solar power output lowered the overall contribution of gas, but there are fresh concerns over a repeat in gas shortfalls this summer, with operating restrictions on SoCalGas's Aliso Canyon field still in place.

UK Power Reserve (UKPR) has been named ‘Mid-Market Team of the Year in the Midlands’ in the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association Management Team Awards 2017. Backed by Equistone and Inflexion, UKPR operates a portfolio of 823MW flexible electricity assets, including fast-ramp gas power stations and battery storage.

Strong storage withdrawals, as well as the tightening spread at Appalachian gas pricing hubs Dominion South Point (Dom SP) and Columbia Gas (TCO) have not been weather-driven in winter 2016/17. The narrower Dom SP/TCO spread, according to PointLogic Energy, was rather caused by slower than expected production growth, coupled with a rise in take-away capacity from storage due to rising demand for natural gas in the Northeastern United States.

New utility-scale solar power installations increased in the United States in 2010-16 at a faster rate than any other electricity generating technology. Solar PV and thermal power facilities together grew 72% per annum on average to currently over 21.5 GW. But regardless of this rapid growth, solar's contribution to the overall US power mix remains fairly limited – the dominant fuel is natural gas.